STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State was ranked No. 15 in D1Baseball.com’s 2016 preseason poll, the website announced Tuesday. Of the remaining 14 teams in the top 15, MSU is scheduled to play half of them in the regular season, including three in the top five.
The Diamond Dawgs are coming off the most impressive summer in school history, having won the Most Valuable Program Award from the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball. State’s 13 hitters on the 2016 roster combined to hit .316 in 438 total games, going 463 for 1464 with 241 RBIs, 86 doubles, 13 triples and 31 home runs. On the mound, MSU’s returning pitchers recorded a 2.13 ERA in 292 innings with 251 strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP.
Head coach John Cohen’s pitching staff is led by preseason All-American right-hander Dakota Hudson, who ranked fifth in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League in both strikeouts (41) and ERA (1.69). As a result, the 2016 team captain was placed on the CCBL Year-End All-League Team and was named a top-40 college prospect for the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft by Perfect Game (No. 13), D1Baseball (No. 15), Baseball America (No. 20) and MLB.com (No. 33). The Dunlap, Tennessee, native was one of 21 pitchers on the spring roster who touched 90 mph on the radar gun in scrimmages this past fall.
Joining Hudson as part of the school-record eight Bulldogs who played in the CCBL this past summer was fellow team captain Jacob Robson. The junior outfielder started the 2015 CCBL All-Star Game and finished the CCBL regular season with a .318 batting average. Robson finished in the top-10 in the Southeastern Conference last spring in stolen bases (21) and on-base percentage (.436), while leading the team in batting average (.324), runs scored (41), hits (60), at-bats (185) and multi-hit games (18).
Defensively, the Bulldogs are anchored by middle infielders John Holland and Ryan Gridley. This past spring, Holland shattered the school record for the highest fielding percentage by a second baseman, posting a .992 clip with just two errors in 256 chances. Gridley earned All-SEC Freshman honors at shortstop, and along with Holland helped MSU maintain its lead with the most double plays turned nationally since 2012 (264). The last two seasons, head coach John Cohen’s club has tallied the fourth-highest combined fielding percentage in the country (.979).
The D1Baseball poll is the second national poll to be released, following Collegiate Baseball’s ranking of MSU at No. 11 late last month.
Opening Day at Dudy Noble Field for Cohen and company is Friday, Feb. 19. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT against Florida Atlantic. For more information on Hudson, follow the program on Twitter, like them on Facebook and join them on Instagram by searching for “HailStateBB.” You can also find all-access coverage of the program on SnapChat by searching for “HailStateSnap.”
D1Baseball.com Preseason Top-25
4. Texas A&M*
5. Oregon State
6. Miami (Fla.)
8. Oklahoma State
10. NC State
12. Southern California*
15. Mississippi State
16. North Carolina
17. South Carolina
20. Florida State
21. Cal State Fullerton
24. Coastal Carolina
* On MSU’s 2016 Schedule